Identify ten schools to which you might apply. Visit the career center in your school and speak with counselors who may help you with university guide books and other resources. Speak with professors in the area of your interest for their recommendations. Look at the overall ranking of the institution as well as the specific ranking of the department. For each institution, identify faculty members with whom you might find an intellectual match.
Letters of recommendation are another important component of your application materials. They provide a professional opinion of your intellectual abilities and preparation for graduate school, and are usually written by a professor who not only addresses your specific strengths, but compares you to the many students with whom the professor has worked during his or her career. In other words, the admission committee wants to know how you "stack up" against all the students the recommender has ever had! In general, most programs/universities require three letters of support.
As you move through your undergraduate years and into graduate school, you will have increasing contact with graduate students and faculty in your discipline. Knowing how to interact with them can be helpful as you begin to negotiate a larger sphere with future colleagues and mentors. Building strong relationships begins with your initial interactions with busy faculty members and graduate students. As you begin to apply to graduate school, please keep the following suggestions in mind:
In the humanities, the writing sample is just as crucial, if not more crucial, than the statement of purpose. Therefore, an applicant should place considerable importance and a great amount of effort into producing a writing sample. In general, admission committees evaluate an applicant's ability to synthesize ideas, concepts, or theories, and logically take a stand and argue them. Faculty would like to admit potential graduate students whose intellectual abilities and curiosity are highly advanced and are evident in the writing sample.